About 100 people gathered in Rapid City, South Dakota Tuesday evening for the Rally for Compassion, sponsored by the South Dakota Coalition for Compassion, which has spearheaded the campaign for Initiated Measure 13, which calls for the legalization of medical marijuana in South Dakota.
“There are some opponents out there lying (about the measure),” Reistroffer said. He encouraged rally attendees to set the record straight.
Reistroffer said it is important that voters understand that Initiative Measure 13 would allow marijuana use only for medical reasons. The group is not pushing for full legalization, he said.
Supporters of the measure call it “one of the strictest in the country.” The law would require patients to have “established relationships” with doctors and to be “closely monitored” by the Department of Health.
No dispensaries would be allowed under Measure 13 and patients cannot drive while using marijuana, said retired Denver police officer Tony Ryan, who supports the measure.
Ryan said opponents have suggested it would be impossible to enforce the South Dakota law. But he doesn’t buy that. Medical marijuana patients will be required to carry cards from the Department of Health proving they have a doctor’s authorization for the marijuana, he said.
“Having been there for 36 years (as a police officer), I don’t see the problem,” Ryan said. “It’s just asking for another form of ID,” he said.
Patrick Lynch, former chairman of the North Central States chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, said he speaks from experience of the benefits of medical marijuana.
The 47-year-old Sioux Falls man said he was diagnosed with MS 20 years ago. The medication prescribed to control the muscle spasms common in MS patients left him unable to function, Lynch said.
With encouragement from another MS patient, Lynch said he tried medical marijuana and got instant relief from spasms without the “foggy feeling,” he said.
“This was a medicine I could deal with,” Lynch said.
Lynch encouraged the crowd to get out and spread accurate information to voters.
“You are the foot soldiers,” Lynch said. “We need to help the patients.”
Initiative Measure 13 would allow medical marijuana to be used in South Dakota under the following guidelines:
• Medical marijuana patients must be registered with the State Department of Health.
• Medical marijuana patients must have an authorization from a medical doctor for the treatment of one of the following “debilitating medical conditions”: cancer, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease or any condition that causes wasting, severe nausea, debilitating pain, seizures or muscle spasms.
• Medical marijuana patients must have an established relationship with a doctor for six months prior to obtaining an authorization. They must see their physician every six months.
• Patients cannot drive while using medical marijuana.
• Medical marijuana patients can only obtain marijuana from a “designated caregiver” who must be 21 years of age, a resident, registered with the state and have no previous felony arrests (why, exactly, should having “previous felony arrests” affect your medical treatment?)
• No dispensaries will be allowed under the law, according to Emmett Reistroffer, campaign director for Coalition Compassion, which supports Measure 13.
To read the entire measure, visit the Coalition for Compassion website at www.sdcompassion.org
and click on Measure 13.